Flipping Stanley Kubrick’s enigmatic film 2001: A Space Odyssey into a moody Hip Hop album made up of sinister backdrops and trippy lyrical content, Flatbush Zombies have an intriguingly dark and cinematic debut on their hands.
3001: A Laced Odyssey is a unique body of work that transcends space and time through the use of various influences. One minute you’re thrusted into a chaotic chamber of horror that feels like something Three-6-Mafia might have done during their Mystic Stylez era, the next you’re left stranded on a freezing cold street corner in the middle of the night with '90s New York hip hop creating the backdrop.
Chant-heavy anthems such as ‘Ascension’ and catchy moments like ‘Trade-Off’ - “It’s that work hard, play hard / Make you quit that day job / I smoked so much this year we couldn’t even take a day off” - show the diversity in offerings on display throughout 3001. Even further than that, on ‘Fly Away’ a usually gruff DMX/N9ne-sounding Meechy Darko cuts back on the testosterone and tries his hand at a few harmonies - but don’t expect to hear any Ariana Grande type bubblegum wailing. Instead, over the beautifully arranged piano chords the Brooklynite sings low while contemplating suicide.
Not as instrumentally heavy as you’d expect it to be, surprisingly 3001 is full of serene moments, but not the type where yoga, calming chants and organic facials reign supreme. Listening to ‘Smoke Break’ (it wouldn’t be a Flatbush Zombies album without one of these) you’re transported to a tranquil space thanks to a remedy of the herbal kind, while a usually clunky set of drum taps lowers it ferocity for the sake of its guests.
Addressing the lack of physical product when selling music on ‘R.I.P.C.D.’, those who still enjoy reading the credits and holding an actual compact disc will relate. Immediately following this the Zombies continue their love affair with film by dropping off ‘A Spike Lee Joint’. Originally supposed to be a diss towards Spike Lee, cooler heads prevailed and a mellow moment, pointing out the power of independence, was born.
Throughout the album listeners are witness to a lot of laid back lyrical delivery. However, stepping away from the clouds of smoke and syrupy dynamics, on ‘Your Favourite Rap Song’ the guys lyrically snap. Sampling the same record Black Rob did on ‘Long Live B.R.’, if you thought the Zombies were simply just “druggy rappers” then you might like to think again. Going bar for bar for about seven minutes (plus another six minutes of fan shout outs on top), this right here is hip hop.
Compelling from start to finish, the album is best played with the lights low, eyes closed, and if Meechy, Juice and Erick had their way, a joint in-between the thumb and forefinger. Both eerie and calm at the same time, think boom bap meets trap meets Memphis stomp music, mixed with some of the most engaging and wacky moments from film, and you’re part on your way to understanding what 3001: A Laced Odyssey offers.